Midterm Roundup: TMZ-SPAN

Midterms take a tabloid turn with GOP Senate primary drama, a Congressman’s felony conviction, and mistaken identities.

State of Play – March 26

Down Goes the Maryland-Mander

Maryland was home of the most aggressive Democratic gerrymanders outside of New York and Illinois – that is, until a court stepped in. In a rare redistricting court case this cycle that didn’t benefit Democrats, a Maryland judge threw out Maryland’s 7-1 Democratic map as an “extreme gerrymander.” This decision, if it stands, could cost Democrats 1-2 House seats.

Double Identity

Its all about the brand. This cycle, two Republican Congressional challengers are running for office in areas where – intentionally or out of happy coincidence – they share the same name with a more famous politician. Businesswoman Candice Miller (R), who shares her name with ex-Michigan Secretary of State and ex-US Rep. Candice Miller (R) is running against Democrat Dan Kildee in Michigan’s 8th District. In Western Pennsylvania, Plum borough president Mike Doyle (R) is campaigning for the 12th district left open by retiring Rep. Mike Doyle (D). This happens more than you’d think. Rick Perry – no, not the former Texas governor and Trump Cabinet secretary – ran for governor of Texas in March (he finished in 5th with 61,328 votes, or 3.1%).

In perhaps the craziest example, not one but two  Bob Casey’s who were most definitely not the “real” Bob Casey won statewide elections in Pennsylvania. The “real” Bob Casey was Pennsylvania auditor general from 1969-1977 and a three-time gubernatorial candidate in 1966, 1970 and 1978 before winning the governorship on his fourth try and serving from 1987-1995. A little-known county official also named Bob Casey won the state treasurer’s job in 1976, and a schoolteacher who was also named Bob Casey won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in 1978. The presence of two Bob Casey’s on the ballot is believed to have confused voters and caused the “real” Casey to lose his third bid for governor. The “real” Bob Casey’s son – another Bob Casey – has served as US Senator for Pennsylvania since 2007.

Battle for the Senate

Alabama (GOP primary): After several polls showed Trump-endorsed Rep. Mo Brooks in a distant third place in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R), Trump backtracked to save face and avoid an embarrassing defeat. Trump revoked his endorsement of Brooks, claiming Brooks had “gone woke” – even though Brooks spoke at the Stop the Steal rally before the Capitol riot and steadfastly stood by Trump. Brooks is now claiming Trump tried to get him to steal the election as recently as fall 2021 – of course, he only mentioned this after Trump dumped him first. These two are like something out of Real Housewives (Trump is NeNe, of course). Trump is now expected to endorse one of the two other candidates, Army vet and former POW Mike Durant or ex-Shelby staffer Katie Britt.

Missouri (GOP primary): After the domestic violence allegations against ex-Gov. Eric Greitens made national news this week, many Republicans hoped Trump would back one of the two leading anti-Greitens candidates, MO Attorney General Eric Schmitt or Rep. Vicky Hartzler. Instead, Trump boosted a fourth candidate, Rep. Billy Long, who had been badly trailing the three polling leaders. Trump insisted his praise was not an endorsement, but his comments made it much more difficult for the GOP to consolidate behind one alternative to Greitens, the scandal-plagued current frontrunner.

Ohio Senate (GOP primary): A debate between the leading candidates in Ohio’s millionaire-heavy, volatile GOP Senate primary with no clear frontrunner went off the rails last week. Ex-Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who has run for office in Ohio every two years since 2006 except 2020 and is only 44, launched into an unhinged tirade against his rival Mike Gibbons, a businessman and failed 2018 candidate for US Senate. Mandel interrupted Gibbons, who commented that Mandel had never worked in the private sector. Mandel leapt out of his seat and got in Gibbons’ face and began yelling about the two tours he served in Iraq. Gibbons told him to back off, and Mandel retorted, “You watch what, happens, p*ssy.”

The House of Representatives

Alaska’s At Large: The death of Rep. Don Young (R) opened Alaska’s statewide house seat for the first time in 49 years. The grandson of Young’s Democratic predecessor, Nick Begich III, is running as a Republican, as is state Sen. Josh Revak, who has garnered support from Young’s chief backers. They may be joined by another well-known Alaskan name: Sarah Palin. The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee is publicly flirting with a run, but this should be treated with wellearned skepticism.

Nebraska’s 1st: House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy called on Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R) to resign after he was convicted of three felonies related to lying to the FBI about illegal campaign contributions. Fortenberry’s indictment had already earned him a primary challenge from state Sen. Mike Flood in this eastern Nebraska district.

Oklahoma’s 5th: One month after drunkenly berating tween girls at a sleepover and vomiting into a hamper and on one of the girl’s shoes, Democratic candidate Abby Broyles ended her Congressional campaign for the Oklahoma City-based seat currently held by Rep. Stephanie Bice (R). Broyles announced she would be checking herself into rehab after she “hit rock bottom.” In all sincerity, wishing her a speedy recovery.

Texas’s 34th: The revolving door just couldn’t spin fast enough. Rep Filemon Vela (D) is resigning early from Congress to take a job at Akin Gump, a law/lobbying firm. Republicans think they can flip this South Texas seat that narrowly went for Joe Biden in a special election, and Mayra Flores – already the GOP nominee for the regular general election against district-hopping Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D) – has announced she’ll run in the special.

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© Dominic Moore, 2022